Effect of Seat and Seat Belt Geometry on Abdominal Injuries in Belt-Restrained Children

Principal Investigator: Kristy Arbogast, PhD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Below is an executive summary of this project. Please note that this summary describes results and interpretation that may not be final. Final interpretation of results will be in the peer-reviewed literature.

Injuries to the abdomen are the second most common injury sustained by children restrained in seat belts. Current pediatric ATDs do not have the ability to detect injuries to this body region. This study builds on previous research conducted by CChIPS investigators that identified risk factors and causes for abdominal injury suffered by children in real world crashes to help develop accurate pediatric ATDs for improved child safety.

Using Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS) data, the researchers developed a time-efficient method to quantify seat and seat belt geometry in the rear seats of actual vehicles with passengers ages 4 to 12 involved in frontal crashes. Using multivariate logistic regression, they related the geometrical measures to the occurrence of abdominal injury in the PCPS dataset. After adjusting for age and crash severity, the researchers found that certain seat and seat belt geometries are associated with increased risk of injury in rear seat-belted children. Most of these types of injuries involve the seat belt directly compressing the abdomen’s internal organs, such as the liver or spleen. This can occur in several ways, such as when a child is seated in a rear seat belt system that places the lap belt high on the abdomen even when both the lap and shoulder belts are used and the child remains seated against the seat back. Other scenarios may involve a child placing the shoulder belt behind his back, resulting in geometry that may move the lap belt higher on the abdomen, and when a child scoots forward on the soft, compressible seat cushion before a crash, creating a more horizontal lap belt angle worsened by her moving forward and downward during the crash.

CChIPS members and other auto safety researchers are using these findings to inform car and child safety restraint product development for improved child safety.

IAB Mentors

Steve Rouhana, Ford Motor Co.; Uwe Meissner, Volkswagen Group of America Inc.

Publication References

Annals of advances in automotive medicine. Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. Annual Scientific Conference, 2009 Kristy Arbogast, Jessica Jermakian, Yoganand Ghati